Report criticises state of prison prayer room
Leicester Prison needs to upgrade its bathrooms and improve the state of an area where Muslim inmates pray, according to a new report.
The comments were made in a report by The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) at HMP Leicester, whose volunteers oversee conditions in prisons across England and Wales.
The board also praised much about the prison, in Welford Road, including improvements made to its cells and the forming of a dedicated mental health team.
Board members, who have access to every inmate and every part of the prison, report every year to the Secretary of State on the standard of provision and care for prisoners.
The latest report covers February 2010 to January 2011.
The board criticised the "poor state of repair and cleanliness" of the prison's Association Room, which is used for Muslim prayers.
Suleman Nagdi, chairman of the Federation of Muslim Organisations in Leicestershire, said the group had worked closely with the prison over many years and was "grateful that it caters for the needs of Muslim prisoners".
He said: "It must be remembered that encouraging them to practise their faith can be an important part of their rehabilitation.
"I don't want to criticise the prison too much because I realise circumstances are often difficult, but I would encourage the prison to do everything possible to ensure that provision for Muslim prisoners is adequate."
The report said a bathroom where elderly and infirm inmates bathe or shower was "unfit for purpose".
Tony Donovan, chief executive of Age UK Leicestershire and Rutland, said that fact was "disappointing", but added: "While things can always be better, we've seen improvements in provisions for older prisoners."
Achievements highlighted included the introduction of a course aimed at reducing violence, and an increased awareness of special needs.
The report also praised the fact there had been no self-inflicted deaths during the year.
The prison was built in 1828. It is designated for adult males and is classed as Category B, meaning offenders do not require maximum security.
It can hold a maximum of 390 inmates but currently houses between 330 and 360.
Prison Governor Alison Clarke said: "We thank the Independent Monitoring Board at HMP Leicester for their report, which has been fully considered by ministers.
"The prison is working on a number of areas raised in the report."
To view the report, visit: www.imb.gov.uk